Objectives Participants in faculty development workshops often comment that ‘those who need faculty development the most attend the least’. The goals of this study were to explore the reasons why some clinical teachers do not participate in centralised faculty development activities and to learn how we can make faculty development programmes more relevant to teachers’ needs.
Methods In 2006, we conducted focus groups with 16 clinical teachers, who had not participated in faculty development activities, to ascertain their perceptions of faculty development, reasons for non-participation and perceived barriers to involvement. Content analysis and team consensus guided the data interpretation.
Results Focus group participants were aware of faculty development offerings and valued the goals of these activities. Important reasons for non-participation emerged: clinical reality, which included volume of work and lack of (protected) time; logistical issues, such as timing and the central location of organised activities; a perceived lack of financial reward and recognition for teaching, and a perceived lack of direction from, and connection to, the university.
Conclusions Clinical reality and logistical issues appeared to be greater deterrents to participation than faculty development goals, content or strategies. Moreover, when asked to discuss faculty development, teachers referred to their development as faculty members in the broadest sense, which included personal and career development. They also expressed the desire for clear guidance from the university, financial rewards and recognition for teaching, and a sense of ‘belonging’. Faculty development programmes should try to address these organisational issues as well as teachers’ personal and professional needs.